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Word and Phrase Origins
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Where does the word iridescent come from?


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September 18, 2007 7:00PM

The word is derived in part from the Greek word, Iris, meaning "rainbow," which in turn is derived from the goddess, Iris, the personification of the rainbow. She acted as a messenger of the gods. The rainbow unites earth and heaven, linking the gods to humanity. Iris travels the speed of wind, from one end of the world to the other, and into the depths of the sea and the underworld. Iris was said to have golden wings, and her twin sister, Arkhe, to have iridescent ones. During the Titan war, Zeus tore Arkhe's iridescent wings from her, and gave them as a gift to Nereid Thetis at her wedding. Nereid Thetis, then in turn, gave the wings to her son, Achilles, who wore them on his feet. Achilles was then known as Podarkhes, or "wing-footed with Arkhe's wings."